Asbestos Settlement Compensation Payout Timeline

Summary

Settling asbestos compensation claims has no specific or set timeline. Each mesothelioma or other asbestos-related impairment has its particular circumstances and urgency. Settlement time greatly depends on the legal process a claimant pursues. It also depends on the representation they get from a law firm.

Urgency of Mesothelioma Legal Claims

For many people who developed a disease caused by asbestos exposure, time is of the essence. That’s especially so for malignant mesothelioma sufferers. And time is really an unfair situation for mesothelioma victims as there’s such a long latency period between asbestos exposure incidents and when the disease symptoms present. By then, time is very short for patients, particularly if they’ve been diagnosed in a late stage of mesothelioma.

The latency period involved in a mesothelioma diagnosis combined with the disease’s aggressive nature make time an essential factor in ensuring claims are settled fairly and promptly.

Most asbestos compensation payouts are negotiated settlements handled by a law firm specializing in asbestos litigation. Courts and legislators established extensive legal frameworks over the past four decades. Hundreds of thousands of claims were made against negligent asbestos producers, product manufacturers, and suppliers.

Defendants were liable for untold illnesses and deaths of American workers and military veterans who unknowingly suffered exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Now, many of these defendants have disappeared.

Several asbestos companies have gone out of business due to bankruptcy. Some have changed their name, been sold off or merged into larger partnerships—efforts that don’t excuse liability. But, it does make it harder to collect due compensation within a reasonable timeline. To estimate how long it may take to be paid for a settlement, it’s necessary to look at the full process and the steps involved.

Asbestos Lawsuit and Settlement Processes

The last thing most mesothelioma sufferers want is a long and dragged out legal process.

The main purpose of monetary compensation is accessing sufficient funds to cover existing damages like:

  • Medical and healthcare costs
  • Lost income
  • Ongoing living and care expenses

While large settlement sums have been court-awarded after jury trial verdicts, most claimants would rather have their settlement adjudicated as quickly as possible. Mesothelioma patients need urgent treatments, which they deserve to be compensated for.

The fastest way to get your settlement paid out is by retaining a law firm specializing in mesothelioma litigation and representing other asbestos-related claims.

This is what to expect when retaining a law firm that practices asbestos litigation:

  • Medical Review: They’ll record the client’s health and work history in order to assess what degree of damage a plaintiff has and who the responsible party or parties are. These overall circumstances determine what legal course to pursue as well as what urgency there is in obtaining fair and just compensation.
  • Research: Attorneys who specialize in mesothelioma cases already have a massive amount of research at their disposal. They match a client’s circumstances with case precedents and known asbestos companies who’ve already been held liable for negligence. Based on the individual’s situation, attorneys recommend how to proceed with collecting compensation.
  • Litigation: Filing a formal lawsuit and taking it all the way to a jury trial is complex and time-consuming. It may not be in a claimant’s best interest, particularly where settlement time is important. Large settlements are typical with court-ordered verdicts. However, skilled attorneys know that negotiating a settlement with a named defendant is quicker and less stressful for the client.
  • Trust Funds: Often, attorneys recognize their client’s situation fits with assessing existing trust funds already established by major asbestos companies who reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. These funds are immediately accessible, provided the claimant proves they’re eligible. Trust funds pay less than lawsuit settlements but they’re a ready source of quick payout.
  • Workers Compensation: Some states have workers compensation programs that pay income assistance and expense support for asbestos disease claimants. This is also a fast and reliable compensation form but it depends on the individual circumstances. Sometimes, private healthcare insurance can fund payouts. Medicare and Medicaid are designed to pay for medical costs, not for income assistance.
  • Veterans Affairs: All United States military veterans are eligible for compensation and extended healthcare benefits where it’s shown their disability developed from active-service duty hazards like asbestos exposure. Provided veterans were honorably discharged, they can apply to Veterans Affairs (VA) for money and expense support. This timeline greatly depends on a veteran applicant having all their information ready and supplied to VA.

Negotiating a Timely Compensation Payout

Time comes into play on both sides of the compensation settlement negotiation table. Attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant are duty-bound to work in their client’s best interest. For the mesothelioma patient, that interest is getting the most amount of compensation in the shortest time. But for the defendant, dragging the case out may be their strategy for forcing the claimant to settle with a much smaller amount than they’re reasonably due.

This sounds like nasty business. The truth is, mesothelioma is a nasty disease and the prognosis for long-term survival greatly depends on the disease stage when it’s diagnosed and treatment begins. A historical tactic on many asbestos defendants’ part was to stall the proceedings and bet that the litigant would expire before they were forced to pay out.

Experienced mesothelioma lawyers know this tactic and prepare for it. They also know another anticipated response is for the defendant to quickly make a low-ball settlement offer. This is to entice a suffering patient into accepting less than what the defendant would have to pay should the courts make a decision. Unfortunately, this is part of the litigation process. It’s the claimant attorney’s role to understand what the best overall compensation is given the particular case timeline.

Expediting Mesothelioma Compensation Payouts

Most compensation processes recognize the urgency in settling mesothelioma cases. Those familiar with mesothelioma understand that this disease is particularly aggressive when reaching a stage that can be accurately diagnosed. Often, there are only a few months to two years left in a mesothelioma patient’s life expectancy. That’s unless caught early enough for treatment to start.

Mesothelioma treatment is expensive. Very few patients can afford to directly pay for proper mesothelioma intervention. They need compensation help and they need it fast. Following a typical lawsuit timeline isn’t practical or realistic for mesothelioma victims. This is where an experienced attorney who specializes in mesothelioma practice makes all the difference.

Mesothelioma law firms have the experience and connections to expedite compensation settlements for their clients. Most lawsuits follow a rigid timeline that starts within a certain statute of limitations for commencing an action once a disease or disability diagnosis is made. Then comes the information exchange period between plaintiff and defendant where disclosure is made and trial preparation happens.

Realistically, it takes two to three years before civil trials happen. An actual trial may only be a week or two, but waiting to get paid for a settlement can take months or even years longer. Mesothelioma patients just don’t have that time luxury. Their best recourse is retaining an experienced law firm that specializes in mesothelioma litigation to expedite their case.

Retaining a Specialized Law Firm to Expedite Compensation Payouts

A law firm specializing in mesothelioma litigation will focus on expediting their client’s compensation payout. That begins with assessing the urgency and what best process to undertake. Attorneys who deal with mesothelioma are fully aware of their clients’ short timeline. Being compassionate, they proceed with negotiating mesothelioma settlements as a top priority.

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, then you need an advocate to fight on your behalf and get you the compensation you deserve—quickly. Contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network today to work with our Justice Support Team.

View Author and Sources
Sources
  1. United States Government Accountability Office GAO Report to the Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives https://www.gao.gov/assets/590/585380.pdf
  2. Rand Institute for Civil Justice, Asbestos Litigation”, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG162.pdf
  3. Yale Law School, “Understanding the Asbestos Crisis”, https://law.yale.edu/system/files/documents/pdf/white.pdf
  4. Lawyers.com, “How Long will an Asbestos Settlement Take?”, https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/personal-injury/personal-injury-basics/how-long-will-my-asbestos-mesothelioma-case-take.html

Last modified: June 19, 2018